Virginia Wildlife Management

Developing your wildlife habitat

Wildlife habitat enhancement practices for open land should consist of natural or planted hedgerows to be developed as field borders that provide edge layering, cover, and travel corridors.


These hedgerows should consist of VA-70 shrub Lespedeza, bush type honeysuckle, and bristly locust, sawtooth oak, chinquapin, Chinese chestnut, etc.) These various shrubs should be planted as described on the enclosed insert. The Department of Forestry offers these and a variety of other wildlife shrubbery for sale that could be used to enhance wildlife habitat. They would need to be marked to identify them against other saplings to remove.


Following establishment, these shrubs will need to be maintained by applying an appropriate herbicide for the task at hand to any competing vegetation. This should be accomplished during calm conditions, with plastic sheeting covering the shrubs during
application to avoid contact with herbicide. Apply only according to label directions. Manual vegetative control may be substituted for the herbicide application.


Disced strips partially sown or naturally regenerated should border these fields also. Perrenial legumes such as the clovers, crownvetch, partridge pea, alfalfa, etc. sown in combination with orchard grass and a cover crop will provide variety of seed producers and succulent browse. Natural vegetation should be allowed to regenerate in the balance of this area. Species such as beggarweed, ragweed, honeysuckle, etc. will reseed these sections once the soil is prepared by discing.


To maintain these sown regenerated wildlife food plots, disc every three years in late February on a rotational basis. This procedure will keep these areas in a productive state and eliminate invasion by woody plants. Lime and fertilizer should be applied at discing to ensure proper soil pH and nutrification.


The balance of the fields could be utilized for agricultural crops and / or native warm season grasses could be sown to enhance general bird habitat for bobwhite quail, and sondbirds. Native grasses like Big and Little Bluestem, Indiangrass, and Switchgrass are excellent for wildlife habitat improvement and may be used also be used for hay.


Rivers and lakes on provide a tremendous opportunity for waterfowl management activities. The natural habitat created by beaver activity is also fabulous for waterfowl especially wood ducks. This habitat should be augmented by the addition of nest boxes located in swampy areas created by beavers, or shallows along the lake edges. Boxes should be situated close to the middle of the swamp or shallows in the lake and have predator guards in place. A 3 inch layer of sawdust or wood chips works well in the boxes and may be added / changed in mid winter. Small grains adjacent to these bodies of water should work well to encourage ducks along with wild geese. Further details are included in the appendix.


Snags and logs are important for wildlife habitat diversity. The availability of both affect species richness and abundance of cavity dwelling animals and birdlife as well as decomposing macro and micro invertebrates, fungi and bacteria that are essential in forest ecosystems. Snags may be created by girdling poor trees of various species. Logs are important for protection of ground dwelling species, but especially for ruffed grouse habitat. Logs located along the contour provide drumming platforms necessary to sustain grouse populations.


Wildlife habitat enhancement practices are also eligible for cost share assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) depending on availability at the time of implementation. EQIP is administered through the USDA-NRCS. Cost share program availability for wildlife habitat enhancement would be dependant on funding at the time of the practice as determined by the USDA – NRCS.